The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

School Sports Injuries: Why You Need to Properly Heal Before Returning To The Game

Posted by on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013


A child is injured every 25 seconds, according to a Safe Kids Worldwide report. While kids get ready to head back into fall sports, our NY sports medicine doctors warn that players, parents and coaches be mindful of sports injuries that require extended healing time.

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“No one likes to be sidelined, especially early in the season,” says Dr. Geldwert, “but injuries like fractures, concussions, tendon ruptures, ACL injuries and grade 3 calf strains can take more than a few months to heal fully. Returning to the game too soon is one of the biggest risk factors for re-injury.”

Competitive Athletes Hate To Wait!

Research suggests that competition clouds the judgment of athletes with a hunger to play. A May survey of high school football players revealed that 53% would still play with a headache they sustained from a head injury during game play. Only 54% said they would report worrisome concussion symptoms to a coach. Of course, there are coaches and parents who are concerned about their kids missing a season, too. Kids are still growing and developing at this stage of life, so it’s especially important that they avoid movements that overcompensate for injuries, as this could lead to further problems.

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Concussions Are Of Utmost Concern

Concussions can cause long-term effects in the developing brains of children, according to CBS News. The white matter of the brain associated with processing information was affected in kids who experienced trauma, causing poorer performance on tests. Furthermore, 20% of kids who experienced mild concussion had symptoms like dizziness and forgetfulness that lingered up to a year after their injury. Since a secondary blow to the head while the first concussion is still healing can cause fatal brain swelling, sports medicine professionals recommend to follow the adage: When in doubt, sit it out. Most doctors do not advise a return to the game before three months have elapsed, even though the children may feel better.

Overuse Injuries Are More Common In Child Athletes

Each year, over 3.14 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for a sports injury. We’re seeing more and  more young athletes focusing on one particular sport and practicing year-round to excel. Unfortunately, this trend has resulted in many more overuse injuries such as: plantar fasciitis, shin splints, tendonitis, swimmer’s shoulder, tennis elbow, youth pitching elbow, runner’s knee and jumper’s knee.

Cross-training is a good way to keep the body fine-tuned, without overdoing it in one particular area. Quality coaching to teach form and technique is very important in preventing overuse injuries in youth as well. As kids “take it to the next level,” they should never go further than 10% more than they did last week — whether in time, reps or intensity. Often, overuse injuries occur as athletes recover from injury and attempt to return to the sport — jumping right back to where they were practicing or performing before they got hurt. A gradual return to activity is, unfortunately, the only way to ease back into the game.

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We’re geared up for another rewarding season of helping young New York City athletes stay healthy. Our advanced treatments and comprehensive physical therapy program helps athletes return to the game as quickly as possible, without compromising their long-term development. Contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine specialists.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.